I’ve been thinking about plotting a lot these days since I’ve been doing a lot of it. This is a bit unusual since I often fall into the camp where I fear losing the spontaneity and energy of the “story seed” if I spend too long plotting it. Plus, I’m impatient, and want to get to the writing bit as soon as I can.
However, this inevitably leads to a few major problems down the road:
- A LOT of rewrites, and drafts. Which bugs me since I hate repetition and covering the same ground I consider “finished.”
- inconsistencies, whether it’s in character or details, because perhaps they occur to me mid-way through, and I didn’t make a clear note about them.
- questions / holes where I can’t get from scene A to D, or I have no idea where my characters get their fresh water, say, in a world where water is infected and dangerous. Or what is a common 19th c. sheep. Some are better to come back to later, others … it’s difficult to continue when the hole is too huge.
This is what’s led to my (partial) conversion to plotting. It also comes in handy the more complicated the world-building becomes, when you really need to remember the “rules” for the world you’re creating in. If it’s dystopian, where are the dangers? What areas are there? Where is safety? If you give a character magical powers, what are they? How do they work? I’m finding it’s a lot easier to figure out some of those things ahead of time.
Still, I can’t overlook the importance of the “discovery draft.” That is, all the wondrous things I’ll discover about the story and my characters as I write. Which means no, I’m not one of those writers who will work with a plot spread-sheet (not yet, at any rate), but I will have a scene index card with general notes, the conflict in the scene, the setting, POV, etc. Like a little guidepost to help me along the way. It’s quite possible some of them might not make it into the book, but I’ve heard it’s so much easier to throw away ideas and organize in the plotting stage before it’s, say, six chapters worth of text and a few thousand words.
I’m looking forward to seeing if this is true for me.
So, what about you. Are you a plotter or a “pantser” – that is, do you write without previous plotting? Why? Love to hear from you.
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